A Sapwood-Centric Post

Three weeks ago, I went to a show in which The Sapwoods served as the opener.  Before the performance, lead guitarist David Suchan handed me a copy of their 2012 CD, Electric Glow.  The rhythm section has changed since the album’s release, but the CD still seems to contain similar elements of their recent live performance.

Why review something over a year old?  Bands send promotional material out to lots of places: Radio stations, record stores, local media, record labels.  If you’re a musician, it makes your day to get a response (good, mixed or constructive) and know that someone actually cares about what you’ve created.  After a couple listens, I believe The Sapwoods’ Electric Glow deserves some belated recognition.

Overall, the sound quality of the CD is good and a lot of the tunes are at full volume.  At times, there are layers and layers of guitars (and the acoustic guitars in the background effectively complement the songs).

The ex-rhythm section of Tyler Johnson and Joe Paulsen are solid throughout.  The drums seem to have a little distortion on certain tracks of the album, but I assume that was on purpose.  Suchan’s guitar work is excellent.  Justin Swafford has a good voice and I think he sings about love on at least a few tracks (although I’m not great at picking out lyrics and I’m even worse with interpreting their meaning).

I enjoy the alt-country sound of “Chasing the Ghost” and the fine ballad “Vanish Like the Night”.  I think this CD would make good driving music, especially if you’re going through “DeKalb” on your way to Chicago.  “Golden Fool” is the most adventurous track (riff-rock).  Closing track “Will This Be the End?” starts off with a good riff, followed by a so-so chorus, and finishes strong.

As I said in my earlier review of their live performance from a few weeks ago, some portions of songs tend to get into simpler songwriting territory (the song “27” is a variation on twelve-bar blues, and other songs rely on tonic-subdominant-dominant structures), but there’s enough variety in other places to keep things interesting.  To make a long story short, the band plays good tunes, and Electric Glow would make a nice addition to your growing collection of Iowa music.

I see the band is performing at Uptown Bill’s Coffee House in Iowa City this Thursday (4/17/14) from 7:30-8:30 PM.  There’s a 30-minute open mic beforehand (short!), so who’s opening is anyone’s guess (will it be…YOU?).  I don’t see any mention of a cover charge or anything, either, so that’s a plus.  And you’ll get back home at a decent time.  And the coffee house probably has decent hot chocolate.

The Sapwoods’ Electric Glow on Bandcamp HERE.


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